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SAT Exam

What is SAT?

The SAT is a globally recognized college admission test, administered by the College Board, that lets students show colleges what they know and how well they can apply that knowledge. Each year, more than 2 million students in 175 countries and territories take the SAT, and most colleges and universities in the U.S. use the SAT to make admission decisions. In fact, many universities in the U.S. and other countries have used the SAT for more than 80 years as a component of undergraduate university applications. Used with academic performance/high school transcripts, SAT scores allow colleges to fairly compare applicants from different backgrounds.

Most students take the SAT in Grade 11 or the early half of 12, some even earlier, in Grade 10. Almost all selective colleges and universities in the United States, and many colleges worldwide, use the SAT to make admission decisions.

The SAT can also help students connect with colleges, universities and scholarship programs through the ‘Student Search Service’. Moreover, the SAT provides students with the most comprehensive performance feedback of any admission test.

At least half of all students take the SAT twice, and most students do see an improvement in their scores the second time they take the test. However, students should be discouraged from taking the test too many times, unless there is reason to believe that their scores can improve dramatically, on their third or fourth attempt. Research does not indicate that SAT scores continue improving with multiple attempts. Instead, it is recommended that students focus their time on other important aspects of the college application, and on their academic performance at school.

The SAT is being redesigned, and the new exam will be administered for the first time in the spring of 2016. Students who plan to take their SAT in 2014 and 2015 will not get impacted by this redesign. Some of the key changes in the redesigned test will be – using a 1600 point scoring scale, the essay becoming optional, no negative marking, and limited use of calculators. Those who would like to learn more about the redesigned SAT should visit: https://www.collegeboard.org/delivering-opportunity/sat

Eligibility Criteria for SAT

The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) is a globally recognized college admission test that lets you show colleges what you know and how well you can apply that knowledge. It tests your knowledge of reading, writing and math — subjects that are taught every day in high school classrooms. Most students take the SAT during their junior or senior year of high school, and almost all colleges and universities use the SAT to make admission decisions.

SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) tests your skill in quantitative reasoning and verbal ability for admission to colleges in USA. It is conducted, developed and published by College Board of US but it is formally conducted, developed and published by ETS (Educational Testing Service). Candidates seeking admission to undergraduate courses in US universities are required to take SAT exam. An individual cannot take SAT exam more than 2 times.

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Eligibility Criteria for SAT

  • SAT is a paper based test for securing admissions in universities and colleges based in US.
  • Anyone who has completed his/her 12 years of schooling from any recognized Indian board or university can take SAT Reasoning Test or SAT Subject Tests or both.
  • There are no criteria of minimum marks for appearing in any SAT.
  • The SAT scores are valid for five years, most universities/ colleges accept scores up to five years old, but it is always better if scores are not older than 2 years.
  • Countries accepting SAT score include Australia, United Kingdom, Singapore and Canada.

Interested candidates can log onto official website of desired colleges and universities to know the scores accepted by them for securing admissions in different courses.

How Can Students Prepare for the SAT and SAT Subject Tests?

The College Board provides students with several high quality resources to prepare for the SAT and Subject Tests, many of which are completely free, such as ‘Question of the Day’, ‘Free Practice Test’, Skills Insight, and online tutorials/videos on the Khan Academy website. Students can also purchase ‘The Official SAT Guide’ or the ‘Official SAT Online Course’ on the College Board website. Detailed information about several practice resources is available on http://sat.collegeboard.org/practice.

Paper Pattern for SAT

The SAT tests skills taught in high school classrooms: reading, writing and math. A student’s knowledge and skills in these subjects are important for success in college and beyond.

The critical reading section includes reading passages and sentence completions.

The writing section includes a short essay and multiple-choice questions on identifying errors and improving grammar and usage.

The mathematics section includes topics like arithmetic operations, algebra, geometry, statistics and probability.

The SAT is a fairly long exam – 3 hours and 45 minutes in duration, and made up of 10 sections:

One 25-minute essay

Six 25-minute sections (mathematics, critical reading and writing)

Two 20-minute sections (mathematics, critical reading and writing)

One 10-minute multiple-choice writing section

Each section of the SAT (critical reading, mathematics and writing) is scored on a 200-800 point scale, for a possible maximum total of 2400. Students also get two subscores on the writing section: a multiple-choice score from 20 to 80, and an essay score from 2 to 12.

To understand the scoring better – students are first given a raw score, where they receive 1 point for every correct answer and lose ¼ point for an incorrect answer. No points are deducted for omitted answers. Then these scores are equated. A statistical analysis is done to make sure the test is an accurate representation of the student’s skills. The unscored section of the test helps to ensure the test is fair. Questions in the unscored section are not factored into your SAT score. In the statistical analysis, equating adjusts for slight differences in difficulty between test editions and ensures that a student's score of, say, 450 on one edition of a test reflects the same ability as a score of 450 on another edition of the test. Equating also ensures that a student's score does not depend on how well others did on the same edition of the test. Every SAT includes a 25-minute section, which doesn't count toward your final score. It may be a critical reading, mathematics, or multiple-choice writing section. This is done to help College Board assess questions for next year's test, and it ensures that the SAT accurately reflects students’ skills. Also, the unscored section helps account for minor differences in difficulty across different forms of the test.

What are SAT Subject Tests?

Subject Tests are hour-long, content-based tests that allow students to showcase achievement in specific subject areas where they excel. Using SAT Subject Tests, students can differentiate themselves in the college admission process or send a strong message regarding their readiness to study specific majors or programs in college. In conjunction with other admission credentials (their high school record, SAT scores, teacher recommendations, etc.), Subject Tests provide a more complete picture of a student’s academic background and interests to a college admissions officer.
 
Many colleges use the SAT Subject Tests for admission, for course placement, and to advise students about course selection. Some colleges specify the SAT Subject Tests that they require for admission or placement; others allow applicants to choose which tests to take. Some colleges might not require students to take Subject Tests at all, or might state them as optional. Students should undergo research to determine whether the colleges they are applying to require Subject Tests as part of the application.
 
Scored out of a total of 800, Subject Tests are available in a variety of subjects across English, World Languages, Math, History and Science (Physics, Chemistry, and Biology). Students should think about taking those Subject Tests that are required or recommended by the colleges that they are interested in, or in the subjects they excel in or may want to major in, and to showcase their strengths and interests.
 
Because the SAT Subject Tests are based on high school course content, the best way to prepare for them is by learning the material taught in the corresponding classes and using the textbooks that students are already using for those classes. Students should ideally take their Subject Tests while they are in Grade 11 or 12 so that they can benefit from the topics still being fresh in their mind from school.

Registration for SAT

The SAT and SAT Subject Tests are held in India 6 times a year, in the months of January, May, June, October, November and December. The test is usually held on the first Saturday of the month, but there can be exceptions. Test dates are released well in advance by the College Board, and can be viewed on the website: http://sat.collegeboard.org.

Registration for the SAT and SAT Subject Tests takes place online on the College Board website (http://sat.collegeboard.org/register). The deadline to register is roughly 4 weeks before a test date, but students are encouraged to complete their registration well in advance, to ensure that they get a seat at a test center of their choice. There are currently more than 45 test centers spread across more than 20 cities in India. The complete list of centers can be viewed by students when they are registering online.

The SAT costs Indian students $94.50 (there could be additional costs for extra services chosen by students). The Subject Tests cost a bit lesser. Students can take up to three Subject Tests on one testing date. However, students cannot take the SAT and the SAT Subject Test on the same day.

Students in India are currently not permitted to take the tests without a valid passport. Before registering, students should ensure they will have a valid passport on the day of testing. Expired passports, or letters from the Passport Office stating the Passport is in process of being issued will not be acceptable. Only those students carrying a valid passport to the test center will be allowed to take the test.

Students should ensure they carry everything they’ll need on the test day, for a smooth testing experience. They can review the list of items to carry, or not to carry, on http://sat.collegeboard.org/register/sat-test-day-checklist.

Approaches and reminders on how to do well on the SAT Subject tests

The College Board, makers of the SAT, offer many high-quality resources to help students prepare for the SAT. Students should visit http://sat.collegeboard.org/practice/for more information on the tools listed below.

Free resources and tools by the College Boardinclude Question of the Day, a full-length practice test, Answers Imagined and Skills InsightTM. The College Board has also partnered with the Khan Academy (www.khanacademy.org) to provide free practice resources to students across the world. The Khan Academy website has video tutorials, practice questions and tips to help students prepare for the SAT.

TheOfficial SAT Study Guide includes 10 full length official SAT tests with access to online answer explanations. The Book costs $31.99, with discounts available on combination purchases. Lastly, students can purchase theOfficial SAT Online Course, which has 18 interactive lessons. Students get access to 10 complete practice tests, several practice questions, and detailed explanations for correct/incorrect answers to all questions. Students receive detailed personalized feedback on all practice tests and quizzes, and can practice for the SAT essay by responding to essay questions and getting back immediate, computer-generated scores. The Online Course is priced at $69.95.

Effective Practice and How to Improve Scores

Focus on Weak Areas - When you analyze scores from a practice test or the real test, pay attention to the types of questions that gave you trouble and then focus on those areas as you prepare. If you continue focusing on areas where you’re already doing well, it won’t necessarily help you improve your score. You can usually find advice and access to tools that help you determine your weakness areas on the test maker’s website.

Check Your Timing – It isn’t enough to practice different types of questions on a test. You should replicate the real-day testing environment at home, and attempt to practice the entire test at once, instead of in parts. Admission tests are strictly timed, and their timing is different from regular high school or college-level tests. If you find you finished early and got easy questions wrong, slow down and read questions more thoroughly. If you didn’t finish in time, focus on improving timing, and check out the test-taking tips and study aids on the test maker’s website.

Be Calm Before Test Day – It’s common to get nervous the night before the exam. You should remember that you need to be relaxed and in a good frame of mind to ace the test. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep before the test. Remember to carry your Admission Ticket, ID, stationery and calculator (if needed). Most standardized tests are long, and have adequate breaks between sections. Carry a healthy snack to eat between sections to stay focused during the entire duration of the test.

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